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Engagement with Digital Video in Malls…Does it Work?

Bill Ketcham, CMO, Adspace

One of our biggest challenges as a “new medium” (even though our business in its current form  is almost ten years old), is proving to the media planning and client communities that mall visitors engage with our screens, and that they remember the advertising that is shown on them.  The mall environment would appear to be extremely inhospitable to the presentation of video advertising. To the uninitiated, it appears cluttered, busy, distracting-- and visitors “don’t stop and watch our screens” (that’s true, they don’t).  So what is the real story? (Full disclosure…I am the CMO of Adspace.)

First, not all malls are created equal.  The 206 Adspace malls are America’s class A, meaning they are large, enclosed, upscale regional malls…not strip malls.  They are pretty exciting entertainment environments, and we try to make sure we are part of that entertainment equation by giving visitors content that they really want, which is, based on what they have told us… the best sales in the mall, thoughts on fashion from Lucky Magazine’s cover celebrities, and hysterical snippets from BuzzFeed and NowThis News

Second, mall visitors are there because they really want to be… just try to find a parking place at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ.  Our friends at Media Behavior Institute learned (before their unfortunate demise) that visitors to malls are in the most positive frame of mind of any digital place-based environment… even better than bars, believe it or not (not?).

And they consume our medium in a very different way... little pieces at a time.  You won’t see many people stopping to look at one of our screens very often (though it does happen).  Rather, they view them as they walk by, or go up an escalator, or sit in the food court.  This is why we have so many screens in a mall (27 in Garden State Plaza alone).  When their viewing time across all of our screens is added up, it is significant. That is the power of our medium.

So, the bottom line is how many shoppers remember our clients’ commercials?  We have commissioned four Nielsen studies over the last seven years to measure this. Fifteen different commercials were tested and the results are amazingly consistent.  Average prompted awareness is 34%, and average unaided awareness is 19%.  This cuts across a broad range of product categories, from films to consumer packaged goods.  Here are the details:

The Hollywood guys were the early adopters of our medium (thank you), and because their commercials are very entertaining, awareness should be high…and it is.  But paper products, cosmetics and phones perform almost as well.  So, the bottom line is, this “new” medium is a very effective communication tool, across all categories. Mall shoppers have proven that they will consume good content and engaging advertising.  

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